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Ask The Experts: Should I re-ignite the old flame?
Dear Keith and Maura,
Recently I have been starting to develop feelings for my high school sweetheart. I am in a relationship right now with my current boyfriend that I have been dating for two years. Even though we have excellent communication and a lot in common I find myself not really attracted to his intelligence and physical appearance. My boyfriend loves me dearly and even wants to get engaged. I myself am only 22 years old and would like to get married much later in life and to a person who has all the qualities I would like in a man. I cant seem to break up with my boyfriend though, it would be too heartbreaking and I am fearful of losing a very good friend. On the other hand if I did tell my ex how I felt about him I wonder if our relationship would even be as good as the one I have now with my current boyfriend. My ex who is also my friend is currently in the army and is stationed here where I live only for a couple of months. I know he is dating right now and is single. He has a bright future ahead of him on top of being ambitious, the most important qualities I look for in a man. On top of that I am able to have more intellectual conversations with him and he is very attractive. I have known him for about 7 yrs and him and I are good friends. Should I tell him how I feel before its too late?
Fearful in Phoenix
Well, you do have a lot to consider here. It's pretty clear from what you've shared that you are not satisfied with your current relationship, so you've already taken the first step by being honest with yourself about that. Now isn't it time to be straight with your boyfriend? We understand that you don't want to hurt him, but the fact is, the longer you wait the worse it could be. If you're clear that he is not for you, and you'd still like to be friends with him, don't you think there is a better chance of that if you tell him the truth now, rather than waiting until you've started something back up with your ex, or found someone else you like even better?
You also might want to think about taking some time off to work on your relationship with yourself. Your concern about whether you'd have as good a relationship with your ex as you have with your current boyfriend, even though you are clear that your boyfriend is not the one for you, could be an indication that you are afraid of being alone. If this is the case, then any relationship you get into is likely to have problems, because you'll be coming into it from a place of neediness, so you'll never feel satisfied. As we teach on our book, The Seven Steps to Successful Relationships, once you are clear on exactly what you want from a partner, you must first take the time to develop all those qualities in your relationship with yourself. For example, you stated that the most important qualities you look for in a man are ambition, attraction and intellectual conversation. It's great to have that clarity, however if you expect your primary relationship to fulfill all your needs for those qualities in your life, and don't develop them in other areas, you are likely to continue to have the ambivalence you are having right now, no matter who you are with, because you'll never be sure you are doing as well as you could be. On the other hand, if you work on developing those qualities in all areas of your life - and especially within yourself - then you will be completely satisfied, and you will be able to connect with your partner from a place of unconditional love and mutual support, rather than neediness.
Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself:
When you fully commit to developing the awesome life that you most desire and deserve, then you will be ready to attract and build a primary relationship that is truly worthy of you. And the satisfaction and fulfillment of that relationship will be beyond your wildest dreams!
Keith and Maura
To read previous Ask-The-Experts responses, or to submit your question for Keith and Maura, click the link below:
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